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For the uninitiated, Aurora Borealis is Ron Vento’s lone project that combines the best parts of black, death and thrash metal to create a fairly distinctive sound. Although, if Kreator had retained their style from “Pleasure to Kill,” gained a fascination with ancient mythology, and released an album using techniques (blastbeats) and technology from the year 2000, I suppose it might sound slightly similar to “Northern Lights.” Vento’s raspy black metal vocals are well done, and are a prefect compliment to the frenzied nature of the music. Lyrically this record manages to intelligently avoid genre clichés, and provides an interesting read for those who are a fan of archaic folklore.
As it has become the norm for almost all of his projects, Derik Roddy absolutely slays on “Northern Lights.” Additionally, Roddy’s drum sound has far more energy than his work in other acts like Hate Eternal thanks to a lack of blatant triggering, and a rather modest ratio of blastbeats. Not to undermine Roddy’s performance in any way, but the real star of “Northern Lights” is Rob Vento’s exceptional guitar work. Vento exclusively performed all the guitars on this CD, and clearly the man knows how to construct catchy riffs. Highlights like “Dream God,” “Sky Dweller,” and “Images and the Nightsky” are all a testament to Vento’s strong sense of structure. The riffs flow smoothly and impeccably, frequently switching tempos and running the full gamut from frantic, single note tremolo picking to monstrous, headbanging thrash riffs. Vento is also no slouch when it comes to scripting solos, as proved in the aforementioned riffing giant known as “Dream God.”
Putting all praise aside, this album does have one fatal flaw: a nagging bout of brevity. Subtracting the closing track that is actually only a couple minutes of the same drum pattern repetitively played over syths, the album clocks in at a paltry 29:55. However, there is a re-released version of “Northern Lights” that contains five bonus tracks from their debut full length, “Praise The Archaic Lights Embrace,” so anyone who is interested in purchasing this CD should try to find the 2002 re-release. While not terribly inventive, Aurora Borealis’ second full length is still a solid slab of metal supremacy that will appeal to an expansive scale of metalheads, and is assuredly worthy of a purchase.